Some Thoughts on the Husband’s Authority
A couple of weeks ago I published one of my continuing series on Christian vs. Christian (see “Christian vs. Christian: Hebrews 10:24-25 Part VI”) which touched on the biblical authority that husbands are given within the second divine institution of marriage. Commenter Bobbi, who also happens to be my sister, took exception to some of the statements that Pastor Robert Dean made. Her comments made me think (which is always a dangerous thing) so I decided I would post some more of my thoughts on the topic. Of course what I am going to say probably won’t make any of the ladies feel better (sorry Bobbi) but I think it is worthwhile to discuss this anyway.
I am going to make three general statements that I think are true and help me think about this. If I am wrong, or just not thinking this through, then please let me know.
I) So far in the Christian vs. Christian series I have posted a lot of New Testament passages about how Christians are supposed to treat one another. In a Christian marriage the husband doesn’t get to blow off those passages just because he is married. He must treat his wife with the same high standards he is required to treat any other Christian.
I am going to quote several of those passages regarding how Christians are to treat one another but first I want to quote another passage. I can imagine that there are Christians who would claim that all bets are off when it comes to how the Christian husband treats his Christian wife. How can such a thing be without being directly stated in scripture? To claim that, without biblical warrant, is unsupportable.
33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)
That passage is dealing with worship services and leads into the famous passage on woman remaining silent in church. I really don’t want to open that can of worms but I want to make the point that “God is not the author of confusion” is a general principle that can be applied to anything set up by God whether that thing is a church or a marriage.
Here is a quote from Wayne Binnicker’s commentary on this passage:
God is never (Gnomic Present tense) a source of confusion or sloppiness, but of harmony, peace, and precisely correct protocol. Nothing in God’s plan is left to chance. Nothing is out of place. Everything is done according to divine structure, not chaos. Nothing is done haphazard, but to absolute perfection. This is true not only in His world, but it should also be true of His assemblies around the world. Noise, confusion, and amateurish services are not of God, but are from the flesh and the world as a source. True worship is always according to precisely correct protocol, the hallmark of His eternal plan working itself out in time.
1 Corinthians p 617
by Wayne Binnicker
My claim is that for a Christian husband to use the authority God has given him to do anything to his wife that is not in keeping with all of the other commands regarding how Christians are to treat one another is confusion. God is not the author of confusion so I do not believe that God allows Christian husbands to treat their wives in ways that are contrary to the following passages:
Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another”
Romans 12:16 “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
Romans 14:19 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
Philippians 2:2-3 “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;”
Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Colossians 3:13 “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
II) The authority the husband is given in marriage is a burden and something I would rather not have.
Have any of you ever watched one of those “chick flicks” where a marriage is falling apart and the no-good alcoholic husband is out cheating on his wife? In the ones I have seen the wife spends a good part of the movie blaming herself and asking “what have I done to cause this!” From what I can tell that is exactly backward. It is the husband who is on the hook before God because of the authority the man has been given. So, it should be the husband blaming himself and asking “what have I done to cause this!”
Scripture does state that the husband has been given authority within the marriage so I am going to take that as a given. Since the husband has been given authority he is responsible for using it wisely. The following passage states a general principal regarding our use of things that God has given us:
48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
Luke 12:48 (NKJV)
We husbands have been given a lot by being given authority over our wives. Frankly I don’t want to be “beaten with few” much less many but what I want doesn’t seem to play into this.
III) Is the husband’s authority some kind of inflexible bludgeon that he has to “use or lose?” I don’t think so.
I probably shouldn’t even bring this up but what the heck. My family grew up in a church where the pastor could be heavy handed with issues relating to authority. He was particularly heavy handed when it came to how a husband should use authority within the marriage.
I believe that Mike Smith, pastor of Country Bible Church, grew up in the same church I did. He has a document on his website titled “Husbands – Leaders or Losers” (for those of you without MS Word click here) that promotes many of the same teachings that we were taught. What Pastor Smith teaches in his discussion of marriage is actually softened a lot over what we were taught growing up but some of those sticky points are still there.
Rather than dance around this I am going to provide a couple of quotes. Please keep in mind that you really need to read Pastor Smith’s document to understand the context of these quotes but I will leave that up to you.
Maintaining peace is never as important as maintaining authority!
“Husbands – Leaders or Losers”
Husbands never prove their love by: compromising their standards, convictions or responsibilities.
“Husbands – Leaders or Losers”
Husbands who do not assert authority, lose it! A husband without authority is without respect, and where there is no respect, there is no love. Consider what is at stake for the husband who does not exercise his God-given authority; loss of:
* the wife’s respect * authority
* self-respect * peace in the home
* the wife’s love * the marriage
“Husbands – Leaders or Losers”
Whoomp, there it is! If you take quotes #1 and #2 together then I can agree. If the wife wants to do something that violates the husband’s standards, convictions, or responsibilities then he does need to exercise his authority. That being said, how often does that really happen in a marriage? Unless the wife is the second coming of Lucille Ball I don’t see this as a common occurrence. Most men whip out there authority over silly non-issues. The issue is proper use of authority. If the issue does not involve true “standards, convictions, or responsibilities” then the husband should back off. If the husband abuses his authority he will be punished by God (see point II above).
That leaves us with quote #3. I believe that the first sentence of that quote is without biblical warrant. I dare any reader to show me passages in scripture where “Husbands who do not assert authority, lose it!” God gave husbands authority over their wives and only God can take that authority away. Please, that kind of hyperbole make my head hurt.